Why mess with a good thing. And so it has been the past six years for the Lexus NX series of luxury compact SUVs. Since its debut in 2015, its sales have hovered in the mid 50,000 copies including the past year with COVID-19. Not all automakers have fared as well.

With a mild makeover for 2021, the bigger news is looking ahead to next years’ NX said to be more sculpted with streamlined body panels and several engine choices.

Our week with the 300h hybrid was engaging with luxury appointments throughout, great fuel economy and enough power to get the job done.

Pros:

Elegant cabin

Much safety technology

Resale value

Cons:

Small cargo area

Infotainment mousepad

Not fast

The NX shares looks with its big brother, the RX Series, only smaller. It is also more manageable, maneuvers around corners and fits into tight parking spots. We’d recommend the Black Line edition with F Sport package which adds a sporty look with 18-inch special wheels, sport tuned suspension, front fog and cornering lamps, drilled aluminum pedals and color-matched interior stitching.

To be fair, it looks faster than it is. A 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine combines with two drive motors for a combined 194 horsepower mated with a continuously variable transmission. There is an automatic gearing mechanism activated by stomping on the gas pedal for additional thrust.

Our zero to 60 mile per hour sprint was recorded at 8.5 seconds compared with the non-hybrid score of 7.2 seconds. All hybrid models come with all-wheel-drive for added stability – a nice feature for northern climates or downpours.

A full suite of safety equipment was included in our tester that stickered in the upper $40s with no optional equipment. It’s all in there though and includes pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise, lane departure assist, blind spot monitors with rear cross traffic alert, automatic headlights and active road sign assist.

Steering is precise and regenerative braking is effective. There is an EV full electric mode however this is more for parking lot or drive-thru use. We recorded 32 miles per gallon on our 225-mile road course.

The cabin is roomy with stretch-out space for four adults. Rear cargo room is a little less than the non-hybrid model with 17 cubic feet behind the second-row seats and nearly 54 cubes with rear seats folded.

In addition to driving a luxury SUV with a posh interior, when it comes time to sell, the NX 300 hybrid has exceptional resale value.

What was reviewed:

2021 Lexus NX 300h F Sport AWD

Engine: 2.5-liter, four-cylinder, hybrid motors – combined horsepower 194

EPA mileage per gallon of fuel: 33 city, 30 highway, 31 combined.

Assembled: All 300h NX models are manufactured solely at Toyota Motor Manufacturing facilities in Japan. U.S./Canadian parts content, 0 percent. Major source of foreign parts – Japan, 100 percent. Country of origin, engine and transmission, Japan.

Crash test ratings: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) named the NX a Top Safety Pick and awarded the NX 300h its highest rating of “Good” in crash protection involving small and moderate overlap frontal impact, side impact, roof strength and whiplash protection from rear collision. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the Lexus its highest five-star rating in overall crash and side crash protection and four stars for rollover and frontal crash protection.

Warranty: 4-year/50,000 mile basic; 6-year/70,000-mile powertrain; 8-year 100,000-mile hybrid component coverage, 10-year/150,000-mile hybrid battery coverage

Contact independent automotive columnist Len Ingrassia at

lenscarcorner@comcast.net

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